Mason v. The Ship Blaireau
6 U.S. 240 (1804)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Mason v. The Ship Blaireau, 6 U.S. 2 Cranch 240 240 (1804)

Mason v. The Ship Blaireau

6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 240

Syllabus

Salvage. One-third of the gross proceeds of the ship and cargo allowed as salvage, one-third of which was allowed to the owners of the saving vessel and cargo, which was divided between the owner of the vessel and the charterers, who were owners of the cargo.

Apprentices to the owners of the saving vessel, who are entitled to a portion of the salvage adjudged to those who were actively engaged in the saving, are entitled to the portions allowed to them, and the same does not belong to their master.

The right of the master to the earnings of his apprentice in the way of his business or of any other business which is substituted for it is different from a right to his extraordinary earnings, which do not interfere with the profits the master may derive from his services.

When a seaman had been left by the master of the vessel, which he, with all those who belonged to her, had abandoned as a wreck on the ocean, and the seaman assisted in bringing the wreck and cargo into a place of safety, where they were libeled for salvage, the Court allowed the seaman a portion of the amount adjudged to the salvors. The principles of policy which withhold from the mariners of a ship their wages on her being lost and which deny them salvage for saving their ship, however great the peril may be, do not apply to this case.

If we search for the motives for the very ample reward for services rendered at sea in saving property from peril, we shall find them in a liberal and enlarged policy. The allowance for such services (one very much exceeding the mere risk encountered and labor employed in effecting them) is intended as an inducement to render them, which it is for the public interests and for the general interests of humanity to hold forth to those who navigate the ocean. It is perhaps difficult on any other principle to account satisfactorily for the very great difference which is made between the retribution which is allowed for services at sea and on land; neither will a fair calculation of the real hazard or labor be a foundation for such a difference; nor will the benefit received always account for it.

The captain of the saving vessel, having embezzled a part of the property saved, forfeits all claim to salvage. If a wise and humane policy be among the essential principles which induce a continuance in the allowance of that liberal compensation which is made for saving a vessel at sea, we must at once perceive the ground on which it is refused to the person whose conduct ought to be punished instead of rewarded.

The salvage allowed to a slave who was one of the salvors was adjudged to his master, the master having agreed to manumit the slave and to pay him one-fifth of the sum allowed him as a salvor.

The French merchant ship The Blaireau, laden with sugar and coffee and bound from Martinique to Bordeaux on the night of 30 March, was run down by the Spanish sixty-four gun ship called the St. Julien, in latitude 35

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